For DIY bands like ourselves opportunities like Warped Tour don’t come along every day. And it is no ordinary opportunity. There are no rules, no right way to do things. You are one of 50+ bands all fighting for your moment. making music, or any kind of art for that matter should never be a competition, but with so many bands and only so much time in the day, how bad do you want it? most people come to warped to see there favorite band and some come to discover something new. our day starts After a night of driving and 4 hours of sleep (if were lucky) we arrive at 7am and you ask yourself: How Bad Do I Want It?
Facing 100+ degree heat and a 14 hour day, there is no time to wake up, no time to adjust. Every second counts as you find a good spot for your tent, set up your merch, grab some water to keep you going and begin the frantic hunt for real estate to tape your posters. a lot of bands have their
own street teams and merch people who help set up for them, but bands in our position(on the road with no tm and no merch guy) have to work hard to compete. So, how do you stick out of the pack? You get creative.
Now, if you’ve never heard of ionia before you have to understand something about us first. We do not write love songs. We don’t write party music. We are a band of brothers who’s sole mission is to spark dialogue about issues that frustrate us as we look at the world around us. Greed, corruption, poverty, environmental irresponsibilty…waste…ah yes…waste.
Traveling festivals are notorious for creating an astonishing pile of waste and a lot of it comes from the bands themselves. Flyers and posters go out daily and most of them end up in the garbage. So, this year we decided to make flyers that were also useful - fans.( recycled of course) “Take a fan, become a fan,” became the motto of each morning as we handed out hundreds of fans to people standing in line before the gates opened. It was nice to give them something that got our name out, but also gave them some relief from the heat. As far as posters, (we printed on recycled paper) it’s inevitable, you’re gonna have to make some waste, but it’s not how many you put up, but where you put ‘em. We made extra large sunburnt orange posters and we put them up where they would be visible. By the main stages, by the band schedule, on the porto-potties, on people! We made giant poster arrows on the ground pointing at our stage. The bottom line is, creativity is king…with whatever you do. Make your own rules.
Once posters are up you plan your day around your set time. There’s a good side and bad side to the way Warped Tour does set times. It’s a lottery. You could be the first band; you could be the last band. The good side is it gets people to come out to the festival early at the risk of missing their favorite band. It also gives younger bands the opportunity to win over an excited early crown who happens to stumble upon them. The bad side is: you could be first, given no time to wake up, no time to promote fully, no time get everyone through the entrance gates. You could also be last, playing to a crowd of zombies, tanks on empty from a long, hot day in the sun or compete with a headliner who pulls most of the crowd. Seize the day. Accept any situation, make the best out of it, play like it’s your last show on earth, and you can turn any set time on Warped Tour into a positive experience!
We played to some amazing crowds this year. A lot of people had never heard of us before, so it was an opportunity to make a lasting impression and get people talking. We asked people to bring a bottle or can that they found on the ground to our merch tent after the show to get a discount on anything they wanted. It’s small gestures like this that got people to come and talk to us because ultimately that’s what we came to Warped Tour for - to talk to you guys! Some bands do a signing for one hour during the day and stay in their tour bus the rest of the time, but we want to know what you guys are thinking. What frustrates you? What would you change about the world around you? How are we gonna star making the government serve the people, and empower and free ourselves?
Our sets were only 25 minutes, so we had a lot of time to get to know everyone. If you came to any of our Warped dates you could find us at our tent with headphones to listen to our music and open ears to hear whatever was on your mind. That’s what allows the seed to grow. You feed it. With love, knowledge, patience and a fire that won’t die. Blaise, our lead singer, told the crowd at multiple shows, “If there are any bands that don’t have time to talk to you then they’re the one’s who are missing out. We’re here because you made this happen. Warped Tour exists because you want it to. And we are forever grateful.”
Isn’t it true though? Public demand can make anything happen as long as we come together. You want to make this world a better place? Demand it! Ask your politicians to act more responsibly. Do your own research. Start your own group. Clean up your community. Your angry about something? Find out what caused it. Discover a solution. There’s no more time to sit back and let others determine your future. The media does not hold the answers - you do! We’re all in this together, so let’s start acting like we give a shit. we are the ones we have been waiting for.
Thank you to everyone who reached out to us on the road. You are part of our family now and we hope to grow with you. If you like what you hear, spread the word. We can’t do this without you. See you at the next show!